My teaching is focused on equity, applicability, and accessibility. I think it is important to center equity, especially in the language classroom. It is crucial to recognize that every student brings a different skillset to the table, making it impossible to have one general, blanket approach to teaching a language. Thus, it is essential for me as a teacher to find a balance and provide a variety of options to encourage the best possible learning outcome for each student. For this reason, I emphasize and value transparency, regular communication, and humor in my classroom.
Communication is the core skill through which vocabulary and grammar are practiced, and reading, listening, writing, and speaking are improved. In my own research, I find that issues of social inequity, economic development, or simply cultural progress need to be understood historically and discursively. It is my goal as an educator to help my students learn the skills and perspectives necessary to understand and discuss important historical and political forces that create and maintain hierarchies and power discourses in German-speaking countries.
I provide my students room for interdisciplinary development of their ideas and opportunities to use what they learn reflectively to think about their own lived experiences. Without personal applicability, both cultural topics and language improvement fall flat. I encourage them to relate what they learn of Germany with their experiences in the US and equip students with core skills of the humanities: Close reading, and argumentative and ethical reasoning. Even within the context of a foreign language, these skills can and need to be practiced and lead to great learning outcomes. Furthermore, I believe it to be essential to create create a classroom informed by anti-racist ideology which means not only highlighting racist and exclusionary structures in German politics and society, but, most importantly, centering the lived experiences of minoritized peoples, particularly Afro-Germans and Turkish-Germans.
I have made the experience that a varied and fun classroom is crucial in setting the tone for a German language class that is engaging, and motivates and interests students. For this reason, I often use mini games, comic creators, videos, and memes in the classroom to create an entertaining classroom atmosphere that students enjoy participating in. Teaching on that basis does not only support student learning, it also creates a positive connection with the language.
I have experience teaching at a 24,000-person public university where I have been teaching German content and language classes on all three levels my department offers (100, 200, 300). I have revised syllabi to ensure intellectually stimulating, engaging, and research-based classrooms. I believe that my approach to teaching, my encouragement of interdisciplinary work and personal applicability and development transcend the language classroom and are applicable to each and any teaching scenario - something I was able to demonstrate in teaching a course on German multiculturalism in Winter 2022 and am excited to prove as soon as further opportunity arises.
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Selected Comments from Teaching Evaluations
“Although I was just one of a full class of 18 or so, he took time to check in with the students with consistent emails and I felt like I was receiving very individual attention. He used humor and interactive activities teach the various modules and keep students engaged. During this very challenging term for students and faculty, he appeared to rise to a higher standard and took on the task of instructing a course that I’m sure would’ve been easier in the classroom. […] His enthusiasm was contagious. The praise along the way and the encouragement from Joscha kept me interested in those last few weeks after reaching complete screen-time fatigue.” (Spring 2020)